Friday, November 5, 2010

The Breeder's Cup Classic, Churchill Downs, 11/6/10

The spectacular Zenyatta, shown above taking down the 2009 Breeder's Cup Classic, is looking to end her stellar career with a perfect record of 20-0 by taking on the boys once again in the 2010 BC Classic. Many are still cranky that she was passed over for 2009 Horse of the Year honors in favor of Rachel Alexandra, particularly in light of Rachel's short and sketchy 4-year-old campaign. If the 6-year-old Zenyatta wins tomorrow, she will not only wrap up HOTY honors for 2010, but will certainly enter the pantheon of most memorable racehorses of all time like Secretariat, Man O'War, Seabiscuit, and... ok, I'll stop, you get it. Hooray for Zenyatta!

The cardinal rule in this game is to bet with your head and not your heart, and I must say that the queen has her work cut out for her tomorrow. Haynesfield, Quality Road, Lookin' at Lucky, and Blame all have a lean and hungry look. I think Blame is Zenyatta and jockey Mike Smith's chief worry, mainly because of running styles.

Here's how I see this race stacking up:

Quality Road and Haynesfield are speedballs and should go straight out to the front along with longshots First Dude and Etched. The latter two will probably spit out the bit at the top of the stretch. The former two will both dig down deep - they have high class speed, but will surely show signs of wear in deep stretch.

This scenario has been Zenyatta's bread-and-butter for 19 straight wins, but Blame and Lookin' at Lucky earn a living the same way. Those three will be targeting the leaders in the last hundred yards for what should be a thrilling finish. Battles like this come down to class and consistency, and Blame outshines Lookin' at Lucky in this regard, plus Blame is one year older and stronger than the three-year-old Lookin' at Lucky - I see Blame and Zenyatta neck and neck in the closing strides.

Jockey Mike Smith recently said that he's always felt Zenyatta has another gear that no one has seen yet; that once she gains the leads she downshifts and maintains just enough speed to win. This has led many to believe that some of her victories were close, when in reality it was never in doubt. Maybe tomorrow we'll see her turn the amp up to eleven!

Here's Paulie's 2010 BC Classic trifecta pick:

8 - Zenyatta
5 - Blame
12 - Lookin' at Lucky

If you're looking to play the superfecta, better press the "all" button - just about anybody could finish fourth here.

The race will be shown on NBC and post-time is 6:45. I haven't had a computer all week (hard drive exploded) so I might not be able to get video up until Sunday - check Youtube for the replay if you miss it; video generally starts showing up within an hour or two of the big races.